You can help your dog avoid carsickness, enjoy rides

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 8:12 PM

The La Plata County Humane Society

During the holidays, we all seem to do a lot of driving. For those of us who can bring our dogs along for the ride, this may mean that we will have to deal with them being carsick.

If you have a puppy that gets carsick, don’t worry! Many of these puppies will outgrow carsickness as they mature. This is thought to be due to the ear canals becoming mature, which is similar to the process in children that can make them more susceptible to motion sickness than adults.

These tips may help a dog prone to carsickness:

Try to position the dog so it can see out the front of the vehicle in the direction of movement. When they can see out the front of the vehicle, their eyes can help to orient what can be confusing sensations from the ears. It may also help to open a window a couple of inches (depending on weather conditions, of course!) as this may help equalize the air pressure in the vehicle.Stress can also contribute to carsickness. This can happen if your dog is only taken in the car to go to a vet’s office for treatment and never to places that they enjoy. If you think stress is contributing to your dog’s carsickness, consider taking them for short rides to fun places. It would be a good idea to try to schedule social outings to your veterinarian’s office, for petting or treats. Be sure to call and ask what times would be convenient for you to come. Also, if you have another dog that loves car rides, and gets along with your dog, consider taking the two on rides together. On the other hand, if you have one dog that does not like car rides, avoid taking the new dog on rides with the other one. The stress of the dog that is not enjoying the car ride could directly affect the other dog’s stress level and lead to the development of behavior problems. When you are trying to recondition your dog, you may want to start with very short rides. The point is to not let your dog get to a level that triggers the behavior problem.The time you spend in the car can be increased gradually if they are responding well. Planning a long car ride in the middle of trying to recondition the dog may ruin the progress you have made.

Hopefully, some of these tips can help the entire family enjoy that car ride on any vacation or just a trip to the store!

Heather Perkins, DVM, is the medical director of the La Plata County Humane Society.